December 4, 2018
Advent is the perfect season for us right now. At a time when many might want to rush ahead and move beyond where we are to the next thing, the new beginning, Advent says, “Wait”.
This past Synod, during the Eucharist, we shared an Advent moment. As we all came to record our discernment of who the next Bishop of the ADNE would be, it was the culmination of 18 months of preparation, the work of the Committee on Nominations for Bishop, the Walk-About visits, and all the prayers for a year of discernment. At the moment of election, I asked us to wait in silence before God. That silence and the grace present for us all in the sanctuary seemed to reveal the very presence of God. We had come to a Kairos moment, a moment of the fullness of time breaking into the now, when one part of our life together was ending and another was beginning. God was speaking to us in the unity of our discernment. Waiting is a very good thing for us to do at high moments like that.
The spontaneous outbreak of applause and joy at the election announcement was what everyone hopes for in such a process. This was followed by the immediate recognition and prayers of thanks for the Rev Dr. Tom Herrick and his wife, Carol. Through the leadership of our visiting Bishop Observer, the Rt. Rev. Ron Jackson, we expressed our thanksgiving and praise for the excellence of both Tom and Andrew in their conduct and manner for all their presentations and interactions. We then gave special thanks for the new Bishop Elect, the Rev. Andrew Williams. The Rev. Canon Susie Skillen and I, along with many others, looked around with tears of joy because of what had taken place. We had all responded well to the grace of God for this historic moment in our diocese.
This Advent is therefore a great season of reflection and preparation for our diocese. We can look back and recognize how far we have come from our new beginnings in 2008. We can also look forward in anticipation at the many transitions that will take place in our lives together. For us, as Anglican Christians, the Church Calendar keeps the season at the forefront of our minds; it prepares us to pray in and out of season. Now, we have much to pray for.
On the Eve of Advent one, we ordained three women to the transitional Diaconate: the Revs Amy Howard, Wendy Dixon, and Gayle Heaslip. We are now planning the details of the trip to the College of Bishops, where Bishop Elect Andrew will be interviewed and, God-willing, confirmed as the 2nd Bishop of the ADNE. We will take part in the March for Life in Washington DC this January, as a delegation of Young Adults and Bishops attend the Summit for Life in Virginia, January 23-25. The Rev. Craig Vickerman of All Saints, Attleboro, is leading the charge on this for our diocese (you may contact him for more information on this particular event).
We are trusting that all will be well with the confirmation of our Bishop Elect and are planning the consecration events for the weekend of March 15 -17, 2019 at All Saints Anglican Cathedral. This will begin with a rehearsal on Friday, March 15, in the morning, along with a luncheon for Archbishops and Bishops, followed by an evening celebration of the founding of our diocese and of my retirement to be held at the Haverhill Country Club. Saturday, March 16th will be the service of consecration and a reception for the whole diocese at the cathedral, and the 17th will be the new bishop’s first Eucharistic service at the cathedral. These events are set up for us to gather together and mark the transitions through these very significant moments in our diocesan life, as well as to receive the greetings and support of the Anglican Church in North America and the wider Anglican Communion. It will be one of those moments when we get to see, in very tangible ways, how we are connected to the Church around the globe. It is an event that has every member of the church represented in the process and participating in the celebrations. The Weekend of March 15-17 will be a fun and full event, as we gather to meet and celebrate with new people from across the ACNA and the Communion who will come to commemorate with us these transitions, the ending and beginning of seasons.
As we celebrate the season of Advent and wait with expectation for the coming of the Lord, may we wait with joy and expectation for all that the Lord will do in and among us in the months ahead. He has been with us up until this moment and will be with us as we move forward in our journey together.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Bill Murdoch